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The case for
The Gamecocks are led on defense by college football's most feared player, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. Even scarier for opponents: The 6'6", 274-pound junior reportedly ran the 40-yard dash in 4.46 seconds in July. On offense, coach Steve Spurrier has two quality quarterbacks in senior Connor Shaw, the returning starter who is also a running threat, and junior Dylan Thompson, a prototypical passer who went 2--0 last season while filling in when Shaw was out with shoulder and foot injuries. The offensive line has four starters back, led by 6'4" junior left guard A.J. Cann. There's depth at the skill positions, including 5'9" junior wide receiver Bruce Ellington and 6'5" junior tight end Rory Anderson.
The case against
Second-year defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward has lots of holes to fill after losing seven of his top 10 tacklers from a unit that was ranked 11th nationally in 2012. Not one player has started at linebacker or at the Spur, South Carolina's all-important hybrid linebacker-safety position. There are also questions about whether Spurrier can effectively manage his two-quarterback system as well as replace tailback Marcus Lattimore and receiver Ace Sanders, both of whom left early for the NFL.
How do you feel about your quarterbacks?
We have two good quarterbacks. Connor [Shaw] is our starter and Dylan [Thompson] is ready. We want to tell one, "It's your game," but I don't know exactly how it's going to work out.